April 13, 2005 [LINK]

Land rush, moneyball in D.C.

Monday's Washington Post detailed the mad scramble to acquire land in the South Capitol Street neighborhood where the Nationals' new stadium is to be built. Land values have doubled since last year; it's almost like Oklahoma in the late 19th Century. I recall well the bleak but soon-to-turn-upscale Buzzard's Point area, which would make a good scene for a violent action movie with exploding warehouses and car chases. D.C. officials are trying to maximize the development impact of the new stadium, and have instructed the chosen architectural firm, Helmuth, Obata, and Kassabaum (HOK) to take that consideration into account as the new structure is designed.

D.C. officials are considering a proposal from Deutsch Bank, which would pay $246 million in exchange for development rights around the new ballpark, which are expected to yield $18 million in revenues per year. That would reduce the amount of funds to city would have to raise through bond issues from $550 million to $313 million, which in turn would reduce the local tax burden. See Tuesday's Washington Post. It sounds like a bunch of accounting gimmickry and tax dodging, if you ask me, and I trust that D.C. activists will keep a close eye on what transpires. That same article also mentioned a lawsuit that aims to block the stadium construction filed by Robert Siegel. He is not the pleasantly erudite NPR news anchorman, but the owner of The Follies, a gay night club / porno bazaar located on O Street S.E. One should not discard the possibility that he may be more interested in getting a higher cash payout than in preserving local cultural traditions...